Honestly, I could talk about butter all day long but I am going to try and keep this short! A butter sauce is my top choice as it is quite simply the easiest and quickest way to finish a pasta dish. Making pasta is a process, you make a dough, roll out the sheets, make fillings - it can be exhausting. So this is the reason I turn to a butter sauce so often and for another reason, it lets my pasta shine and doesn't cover it up. Oh....and also because it is completely delicious! If you need a pasta shape my gnocchi sardi, pici or orecchiette are great choices!
The two types of butter pasta sauces I make
Browned butter - This is pure butter on it's own, melted down until the milk solids separate and start to brown. You might have done this when baking as recipes often call for a browned butter as it adds such an amazing nutty flavour. This is the simplest sauce you can make and I often add sage to it which adds a beautiful herby note to the butter.
To make the browned butter - melt the butter over medium heat in a large fry pan (I like to use a stainless steel pan purely so I can see the colour change easily). As soon as it starts to sizzle add your sage leaves in if using. It will take 3 - 4 minutes to start to foam up, you really need to watch it and you need to take it off the heat as soon as the milk solids are brown. If they are black you have likely taken it too far and it will taste burnt.
Emulsified butter sauce - this is the second and probably most common butter sauce I make. This is when I add in pasta water and often lemon juice to turn the butter into more of a sauce. Try it with a simple pici or gnocchi sardi. Making an emulsified butter is easy, melt it over medium heat and when it starts to sizzle add some pasta water in. You then need to whisk it quite vigorously while shaking the pan at the same time so the two liquids mix together. You can also add a big squeeze of lemon juice. I have a reel on my instagram where you can see this process.
Tips for the perfect butter sauce
- Use unsalted butter - I like to control the seasoning myself and a lot of salted butters are overly salty in my opinion. Get into the habit of buying unsalted as it is so easy to add the salt yourself.
- Using a flat or roux whisk - My mum bought me a flat whisk as a gift and it is probably one of my favourite kitchen tools. It allows more contact on your pan and I just find it easier to whisk sauces with.
- Adding parmesan - to make an emulsified butter even more decadent you can add parmesan, but not directly to the butter, if you do this it will turn into a stringy mess. Once you have added your pasta in and given it a toss add your finely grated parmesan directly to the top of the pasta. Let it melt on top of the pasta without disturbing it then give it a good toss.